England scored four second-half tries to claim a 30-6 win over Australia in a drama-filled affair at Twickenham on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
This final scoreline certainly flatters England, considering this was a highly competitive encounter for most of the match, with Australia coming close to drawing level on the scoreboard with some 10 minutes remaining.
Yet England were ultimately at their opportunistic best, and managed to strike when it mattered most to ultimately claim a comfortable victory.
In a first half inundated with kicking and errors in heavy rain, it was England who adjusted best to the conditions, with Owen Farrell knocking over a couple of simple penalties.
Nevertheless, Australia would have felt they deserved more, considering that Bernard Foley missed a regulation penalty attempt, while Michael Hooper was rather controversially denied a try after being deemed to be marginally offsides when following up a grubber kick.
To make matters worse for the Wallabies, Hooper was yellow-carded soon after for repeated infringements, and he was joined in the sin bin just before half-time by Kurtley Beale for a deliberate knock-down.
To put it mildly, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was fuming by half-time – having clearly felt that England were being given the rub of the green – while he could be seen remonstrating with the fourth official on the touchline as the teams went into the break.
Australia started the second half well, though, and despite having seen two men sent to the sin bin, they reduced the deficit to three points when Reece Hodge slotted a long-distance penalty in the 49th minute.
However, then came a remarkable passage of play as end-to-end action finally culminated in England winger Elliot Daly dotting down after he chased a clearing kick, and then booted the ball ahead just as it came dangerously close to the touchline before following up to score.
Foley converted a 64th-minute penalty to cut the deficit to seven, and there was further drama to come when Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete was the next to be denied a possible try after referee Ben O’Keeffe ruled there to be obstruction in the lead-up.
The match was then finally put to bed when England centre Jonathan Joseph went over to score, with the conversion sending the hosts into an unassailable 14-point lead. Jonny May and Danny Care also scored before the end to add to the Wallabies’ woes.
England – Tries: Elliot Daly, Jonathan Joseph, Jonny May, Danny Care. Conversions: Owen Farrell (2). Penalties: Farrell (2).
Wallabies – Penalties: Bernard Foley, Reece Hodge.
England – 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Jonny May, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Mako Vunipola.
Subs: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Maro Itoje, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Danny Care, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni.
Wallabies – 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Lopeti Timani, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Karmichael Hunt.
Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images